ANTIGONISH: It was a powerful talk from a powerful person.
Artist, activist, Order of Canada recipient, and Sesame Street alum Buffy Sainte Marie gave a rousing talk titled “Power in the Blood, Justice in the Soul” at StFX University’s Schwartz Auditorium last week.
Prior to her speech, attendees got to see Buffy Saint Marie: A Multimedia Life, a documentary on her life. Sainte Marie’s talk covered a number of issues, including activism and taking action towards positive change.
“Some will tell you what you really want isn’t on the menu,” said Sainte Marie to the standing room only crowd. “Don’t believe them. Cook it up yourself.”
Sainte Marie also said she encountered a lack of education regarding First Nations issues even among people who are generally considered educated.
“Part of the benefit of hanging around with diverse smart people in colleges is that pretty soon I figured out that regarding most things Native American, Aboriginal, indigenous… almost everybody was real ignorant, even my professors and even my indigenous colleagues and friends,” she said. “In terms of our education about indigenous everything in this world, most of us have been denied the opportunity to learn much more than a skinny party line that has trickled down from mostly unknowledgeable and often prejudiced deliverers of misinformation.”
Consequently, Sainte Marie said, First Nations people have learned to see themselves through the eyes of competitive European entrepreneurs over hundreds of years. First Nations people are only now rediscovering and creating their indigenous future, she added.
“Those outsiders, they established our… identities from outside to suit themselves, and this state of affairs and the academics and politicians who have played into it have hugely influenced how we have been misperceived by others and misperceived by ourselves,” she said. “Right now we see we’re only here by the skin of our teeth as it is so take heart, and take care of your link with life. Take heart and carry it on. Keep playing, don’t lose your joy and keep praying.”